Yonsei Med J.  2021 Jan;62(1):1-11. 10.3349/ymj.2021.62.1.1.

A Comprehensive Review of Coronavirus Disease 2019: Epidemiology, Transmission, Risk Factors, and International Responses

  • 1University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA
  • 2Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • 4Urology Institute, University Hospitals System, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • 5Department of Internal Medicine IV (Nephrology and Hypertension), Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 6The Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  • 7Research and Development Unit, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, CIBERSAM, Barcelona, Spain
  • 8ICREA, Pg. Lluis Companys 23, Barcelona, Spain
  • 9Faculty of Medicine, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Versailles, France
  • 10Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has caused a worldwide pandemic. The first reports of patients with COVID-19 were provided to World Health Organization on December 21, 2019 and were presumably associated with seafood markets in Wuhan, China. As of October 25, 2020, more than 42 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, with more than 1.1 million deaths. Asymptomatic transmission contributes significantly to transmission, and clinical features are non-specific to the disease. Thus, the diagnosis of COVID-19 requires specific viral RNA testing. The disease demonstrates extensive human-to-human transmissibility and has infected healthcare workers at high rates. Clinical awareness of the epidemiology and the risk factors for nosocomial transmission of COVID-19 is essential to preventing infection. Moreover, effective control measures should be further identified by comprehensive evaluation of hospital and community responses. In this review, we provide a comprehensive update on the epidemiology, presentation, transmission, risk factors, and public health measures associated with COVID-19. We also review past insights from previous coronavirus epidemics [i.e., severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)] to suggest measures to reduce transmission.


Infectious disease transmission; SARS virus; Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; Coronavirus infections
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